Why is this happening?

Ben Wiehe - Monday, January 13th, 2014


StoryCollider_074-300x199Kishore Hari tells a story about visiting three science festivals in a 2013 Story Collider performance. He participates in three very different events in North Carolina, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas, but the same refrain echoes through these experiences: “Why is this happening?”

I was lucky to be there when Kishore, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival, told this story as part of the Evolving Culture of Science Engagement workshop. I remember being delighted with his “Why is this happening?” cry. I’ve been on similar whirlwind tours of science festivals. On a single day in a single city a single science festival can deliver such a barrage of experiences that it leaves your head spinning: from wholesome to downright torrid; from mind blowing to completely visceral; from the poorest neighborhoods to the most exclusive access; from close, intimate exchanges to incredible scenes with tens of thousands of people.

I’ll even join Kishore in admitting that it doesn’t always work that well: I’ve found myself ricocheting between unprecedented, eye-opening experiences and…well…sleep-inducing presentations. But the sheer variety of these experiences has combined for me into both the greatest blessing and a horrible burden. A blessing because what these festivals have done—and are always about to do with new ideas continually in the works—has both enriched my own life and given me enormous hope and pride for the communities we live in. A burden because I’ve witnessed so many of these experiences, compounded day after day and festival after festival, that I can’t possibly convey all of the incredible creativity, emotion, and change that my colleagues are unleashing on the world.

Hear Kishore give it a try for 15 minutes on a basement stage in a Cambridge nightclub (but do be warned that Kishore is pumped enough to swear up a storm).